This week we catch up with our former forward Troy Thompson who played for the club between 2001 and 2010.
Thompson was at GIO Stadium last Sunday to present Canberra Raider 348, Charlie Gubb, with his debut jersey.
Canberra Raiders #229
What do you do for work now?
I’ve been working in real estate with LJ Hooker for about three years.
What’s your favourite memory as a Raiders?
There’s probably too many but it would have to be my debut.
My debut was pretty special because a year before that the Raiders got rid of me. I went to France for a year to play in the competition there in 2000.
The footy over there was quite crazy. It was pretty full on and a bit rough but maybe it toughened me up playing against grown men.
I was only 20 years old when I was playing in that competition and I thought I’d probably mucked up my opportunity to play in the NRL.
I cut my contract short and decided to come back from France and give it one more crack so it was a tough slog to make it as a professional footy player but that’s what I wanted to do.
Just to play one game was pretty cool and my debut was against the Broncos up in Brisbane and I think it was the second last round of the 2001 season. We didn’t have a chance of making the finals and their team was full of Australian Internationals but we ended up beating them 36-6. It was unreal.
What did it mean for you to wear the Raiders jersey?
Whitehead praises teammates
The biggest thing for me was seeing mum and dad so proud of the opportunity that I got to play. They supported me through the tough times when I had no job and I was staying at their house and getting fed just so I could try and make First Grade. They were as proud as punch and that was the biggest thing that I got out of it.
Playing for the Raiders in S.G. Ball and Jersey Flegg, we always had great teams. I wasn’t always the best player but I did love training. That was my biggest thing. I loved training and I loved training hard. Some of the other guys didn’t want to train or what not but being a local junior and playing for your local NRL side is massive.
Who was your favourite teammate?
There’s heaps but I would probably say Ruben Wiki. Watching him as a junior, he would always say g’day and take the time to talk to you. Playing with him and seeing his toughness and mental attitude was great and he was also just a great bloke. Alan Tongue was the same.
These bloke didn’t speak much before the game but they showed through their actions. I remember that if Rubes and Tonguey were injured they would go out a train just to show their toughness. It just rubbed off on some of the young blokes.
They both had time to speak to anyone whether they were a fan or someone high up in the business world.
Do you keep in touch with any of your former teammates?
Yeah, on Facebook all the time. I keep in touch with a lot of guys. We had a good bunch of guys when Matthew Elliott took over as coach and I’m pretty close with him still.
We try and organise a trip one weekend a year but you do lose touch with some people but at the end of the day footy has brought us all together and given us a bond which is great.
What was your funniest moment as a Raider?
We’d had a really good win and were having a post-game celebration but then Ryan O’Hara walked out and covered himself head to toe in tomato sauce. He walked out and said “Who’s throwing tomato sauce?” but it was actually chilli sauce and it got into all his pores.
We had to drag him outside and had the firehose trying to hose him down because he was burning up so much! It was so funny.
Do you have any advice for younger players?
You just can’t take it for granted. If you’ve got an opportunity in First Grade you’ve got to do your best to stay there. It’s the best job.
I probably didn’t realise until I finished footy how good the opportunity I had was. You’re training, you’re with your mates, you’re playing footy and it was just the best time.
Playing all those years, I probably put too much pressure on myself to perform and don’t really enjoy it that much. Looking back now, it’s just football.
I would always dwell on the way I performed and it continued onto the next week but you just have to put it to the back of your head and if you get another crack at First Grade, work hard and give it the best shot you’ve got.